According to a report in the leading South Korean publication The Chosun Ilbo (h/t: Sawyer Merritt), Tesla and Toyota have been discussing the partnership since last year. Citing sources from the Japanese automotive industry, the result of the partnership would see Toyota providing the vehicle’s platform while Tesla would supply the electronics and software.
Why would Tesla partner with Toyota?
The big question mark revolving around this story (other than if it is true) is what’s in it for Tesla? According to the report, the partnership will help Tesla bring their $25,000 EV to market. The reporter who broke the story, Choi Won-seok, says it would be a “win-win” for both companies by taking advantage of each party’s strengths – Toyota’s manufacturing expertise and Tesla’s lead in technology.
Tesla and Toyota have partnered before
If this story is true, it wouldn’t be the first collaboration between Tesla and Toyota. In 2010 the two automakers agreed to jointly developed an EV. That culminated in 2012 with the release of an electric version of the popular RAV4 SUV.
Much like the partnership being described today, Toyota provided the vehicle and Tesla provided the batteries. That partnership lasted until 2017 after the vehicle failed to become popular among other than EV enthusiasts.
Will Tesla partner with Toyota?
Until we get an official response from Toyota or Tesla, this potential partnership seems unlikely given Toyota’s recent attitude towards Tesla, and electrification in general.
UPDATE: In a statement to Washington Post reporter Faiz Siddiqui, a Toyota spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the report.
Toyota spokesman has this to say on South Korean news report about Toyota and Tesla possibly working together. “We would like to refrain from commenting on speculations.” https://t.co/dq1L0zPmEM
— Faiz Siddiqui (@faizsays) March 30, 2021
In November 2020 Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda said Tesla has “not yet created a real business,” and has a long way to go to catch up to Toyota. Using an analogy of a chef in a kitchen, Toyoda said the Japanese automaker already has a real chef creating real dishes and in a real kitchen, while Tesla is still trying to “trade recipes.”
Less than a month later Toyoda said EVs were overhyped and Japan would run out of electricity in the summer months if all vehicles were running on electric power.
Toyota has also been very reluctant to shift their lineup from internal combustion to electric. Despite developing the pioneering Prius hybrid, Toyota only plans to bring their first three new electrified vehicles to the US this year.
What do you think? Will the two automakers partner to jointly develop an electric SUV? Let us know in the comments below.